As an employer or HR professional, if you invite a candidate to an interview, you expect them to have done as much preparation as possible. You want them to illustrate that they have researched your company, have practiced typical interview questions, and know their CV inside out. If they fail to do this, chances are they will not get the job.
What is often overlooked though is that the same can be said from the other side. From a candidate’s point of view, there’s nothing worse than knowing that their interviewer hasn’t prepared or has failed to consider the structure of the discussion. And, if an interviewee leaves with a negative experience, you not only risk losing some great potential talent, but you could risk damaging your employer brand. So, even if you think you’ve already found the perfect person to fill the role, it’s fundamental to prepare for every candidate that you see in order to give them all an equal chance.
“While there are the basic ways to prepare, such as researching a candidate’s background, reading their CV and checking any references, it’s also important to make sure that the interview is structured. Before you start any interview, review the job description and advert. When it comes to asking questions, ensure that they match the original need so that you’re on track to finding the right person.
Beyond structuring the interview, you also need to consider how you position your questions. If you lead the candidate to the right answer too easily, you won’t get a clear indication of their true capabilities, behaviours and attitudes. Instead, ask open-ended questions as this gives an interviewee the opportunity to open up and come into their own.
Added to this, it’s important to dig deeper into the candidate’s personal attributes to get a clearer understanding of how they will fit with your company. So, in order to get the most out of the interview, there are several competencies that you ought to be looking for, including:
- Awareness – In order to fit in with your company and pick things up quickly, the interviewee should have a good understanding of what’s happening in the news, and in your sector in particular. By asking questions on what publications they read, for example, you’ll guage an indication of their knowledge of the industry.
- Adaptability – When interviewing a candidate, it’s important to assess how easily they can adapt to different environments and situations. The ideal employee would be able to remain stress free when faced with challenges. Therefore, you could ask questions surrounding how they cope with stress to find out whether they would be able to remain calm under pressure.
- Delegation, team work and independence – The perfect candidate needs to be well balanced. For instance, they should be able to work in a team, but at the same time be independent. Equally, they should be able to assign tasks to others, whilst still being there as a source of support. As an interviewer, you can find out about an individual’s abilities by asking questions on experience in previous jobs, or any sporting activities/societies that they have been involved in.
- Motivation – An applicant should be able to provide an example of how they can motivate themselves, showing that they have the ability to inspire others even when times are tough, to do the best job possible. By asking questions such as ‘what motivates you?’ you can gain an insight into their levels of drive.
- Conflict management and decisiveness – An applicant needs to be able to show that they can manage negative confrontations, constructively resolve issues, and make well-informed decisions. This could be assessed by giving the interviewee a scenario and asking them how they would deal with it.
- Integrity, trustworthiness, and sensitivity – The interviewee should be able to show that they have a sense of morality and be able to take other people’s feelings into account. At the end of the day, you want them to be able to fit in with the rest of the company, and finding out about personal qualities is just as important as previous work experience.
- Creativity – By asking about hobbies and interests outside of work, the candidate’s creative side may come across. For example, an applicant that enjoys drama or art in their free time may also be able to bring imaginative ideas to the team.
By following a clear structure and asking the right questions, you’re much more likely to choose the best candidate for the role.”
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